Co-ops 'Well Placed' to Influence Tourism

This document has been made available in electronic format
     by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA
                     February 1996

        Co-ops 'well placed' to influence tourism

The key role to be played by Co-operative organisations in the development
of responsible tourism in the next millennium has been underlined at a
major seminar organised by Tourism International Co-operative and
Associated (TICA).

This event, allied to the ICA Centennial Congress in Manchester, brought
together Co-operative and other "popular" tourism organisations from all
over the world to debate the issues facing the sector beyond the year 2000.

Among the panel of speakers from the international tourism industry was
Willie Tucker, Chief General Manager of the Midlands Co-operative Society,
which operates 75 travel agencies in the UK. He told the audience that the
greatest challenge in the next millennium lay in travel's fourth dimension
- its power to educate, to broaden the mind and to bring people from
different cultures closer together.

Charting the Co-op's tremendous growth in the UK travel business, he
commented: "Travel is about the fulfilment of people's dream- it's about
providing them with new cultural experiences, coupled with relaxation and
the opportunity to broaden their minds."

"When early Co-operators first became involved in travel in this country,
they recognised its potential - meeting other people from different
environments and different cultures is an invaluable experience - so much
the better, they believed, if the means of travel could be made more
affordable so that as many people as possible could benefit."

He added that in seeking to do this over the years, the Movement in the UK
had lost sight of its original aim in promoting travel as a means of
education and enlightenment. "We are not here to 'nanny' our customers and
tell them how to behave," he said. "As Co-ops however, we do have a
responsibility to emphasise the many benefits that tourism has to offer in
terms of personal development."

The international Co-operative Movement, he added, was in a good position
to influence world governments and ensure that tourism, the word's biggest
industry, was developed responsibly beyond the year 2000 both in social and
environmental terms. "Despite its importance to the word's economy, not all
governments give tourism the kind of serious consideration it deserves," he
said. "Certainly the international Co-operative Movement, with its
involvement in many spheres of economic activity, is well placed to act as
a pressure group and lobbyist in this respect."

Outlining the work of his 100-member organisation, Raymond Stelandre,
secretary general of the Bureau of International Social Tourism (BITS) said
that the concept of "popular" tourism did not mean cheap holidays for poor
people - but should always represent the best possible standards and the
greatest opportunities for personal enhancement. Great progress had been
made in bringing basic holiday rights to workers across the world but much
remained to be done.

Other speakers at the seminar included Tony Bennett, Managing Director of
the UK travel agency Going Places, who spoke on the impact of technology on
the travel business beyond 2000 and Ole Andresen, General Manager of the
Danish co-operative travel company, Dansk FolkeFerie.

Philip Edwards